With the start of the fall season comes new and improved guidelines, protocols and promises for Orange Coast College Athletics.
Soccer, volleyball, football and water polo are among the many sports to be reintroduced to the fall athletic calendar, after an unprecedented year of postponements and cancellations due to COVID-19, forcing two separate, abbreviated spring athletic seasons for OCC.
“I feel we are in a good spot to continue with our current protocols in place,” said Jason Kehler, OCC Athletic Director. “We were one of the few schools in the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) that was able to compete during the spring semester, and by doing that, were able to really see what worked and what didn’t work.”
Pirates Athletics was able to successfully chart 12 weeks of competition in the spring, including one football scrimmage — something only three other schools in California were able to accomplish at the time.
“Given the current situation, we're moving in the right direction and having as full of a season as we can,” Kehler said.
According to the CCCAA, the 2021 fall season is considered a “normal season.” There will be full playoffs, state championships, and every game counts towards all-time records.
As for right now, OCC follows the CCCAA minimum requirements for competition, which is modeled off of the NCAA requirements. These rules include COVID-19 tests for all athletes administered weekly, including teams currently in their respective offseasons.
The Coast Community College District requires masks for all athletes competing indoors, as well as during indoor training.
As for attendance, the community can come and support the Pirates in person with minimal restrictions this year.
“We have spectators at all of our events,” Kehler said. “Our indoor spectators are required to wear masks but outdoors, they are not.”
Barring a positive test from a team competing in the CCCAA, games are not quite lost to the virus.
“[Teams] are going to make every attempt to reschedule,” Kehler said. “If it's not possible to reschedule the game, then, unfortunately, at that point it becomes a forfeit for the team who was unable to compete due to a positive test.”
After the school processes their athletes’ COVID-19 test results, teams can compile updated practice and competition rosters for each batch of tests.
Considering the vaccine mandate, which is in the process of being adopted by OCC, there seems to be potential for athletes to be included in those requirements.
“We are going to be working closely with the college and the district to see how that policy will be implemented, and then we'll follow that when the time comes,” Kehler said.